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Harrisburg in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

A Bench by the Road: Old Eighth Ward of Harrisburg

 
 
A Bench by the Road: Old Eighth Ward of Harrisburg Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Andrew Ruppenstein, December 26, 2022
1. A Bench by the Road: Old Eighth Ward of Harrisburg Marker
Inscription.  There is no place you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves; nothing that reminds us of the ones who made the journey and of those who did not make it. There is no suitable memorial or plaque or wreath or wall or park or skyscraper lobby. There's no three-hundred-foot tower. There's no small bench by the road. - Toni Morrison 1989

The Bench by the Road Project was launched by the Toni Morrison Society in honor of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. This Bench is placed to commemorate the historic Old 8th Ward of Harrisburg, an African American community that has long been at the forefront of freedom, equity, and justice for Blacks in the United States. The Old 8th Ward was a site of refuge for those escaping enslavement and needing protection from the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. In the spring and summer of 1863, T. Morris Chester conducted United States Colored Troops recruitment rallies throughout the Old 8th Ward, and his efforts fueled Black patriotism and pride for the Union war effort. On November 14th of 1865, Harrisburg would be the only American
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community to welcome the African American Patriots of the Civil War who were omitted during the May 1865 Washington DC Grand Review. In February 1870, residents of the 8th Ward community celebrated A Day of Jubilation, marking the ratification of the 15th Amendment and the return of their voting rights that had been denied free Black men since 1838. In 1977, K. Leroy Irvis, became the first African American Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and only the second African American to serve as House Speaker of any state legislative body since Reconstruction. For over 150 years, the memory of the Old 8th Ward has served to exemplify African American freedom, patriotism, and political agency. This Bench provides an anchor for reflection on the voices and the stories of this historic community.
June 15, 2021
Harrisburg
 
Erected 2021 by Toni Morrison Society.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil Rights. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1870.
 
Location. 40° 15.787′ N, 76° 52.869′ W. Marker is in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in Dauphin County. Marker is on Walnut Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 405 Walnut Street, Harrisburg PA 17101, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking
A Bench by the Road: Old Eighth Ward of Harrisburg Marker - wide view image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Andrew Ruppenstein, December 26, 2022
2. A Bench by the Road: Old Eighth Ward of Harrisburg Marker - wide view
distance of this marker. Underground Railroad (a few steps from this marker); Walnut Place (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Underground Railroad (within shouting distance of this marker); Leaders, Stewards and Advocates (within shouting distance of this marker); Technical High School & Old City Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); Trailblazers (within shouting distance of this marker); Original Capitol Complex (within shouting distance of this marker); Mexican War Monument (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Harrisburg.
 
A Bench by the Road: Old Eighth Ward of Harrisburg Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Andrew Ruppenstein, December 26, 2022
3. A Bench by the Road: Old Eighth Ward of Harrisburg Marker
Wide view, showing the Underground Railroad marker, the A Gathering at the Crossroads Monument, and the Harrisburg Bench by the Road marker.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 31, 2022. It was originally submitted on December 30, 2022, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Lamorinda, California. This page has been viewed 185 times since then and 53 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on December 30, 2022, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Lamorinda, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 20, 2024